Hundreds report being let down by Openreach

If you need a phone line installed or repaired most of the time Openreach are the only ones who can do it for you. This means that if anything goes wrong you’re entirely at their mercy.

Published 30 October 2013:

The company’s slogan sums up their task perfectly: ‘Keeping the Nation Connected’. But hundreds of you have told us how you’ve been let down by the company leaving you with no phone and broadband. Sometimes for weeks if not months.

 

That’s what happened to Talk Talk customer Angela Jones.

Both of her services failed completely in August. She told us: ‘They informed me first of all that within 48 hours they would carry out some tests, and then hopefully the phone line would be fixed.’

But when Angela noticed that nothing had changed she used her mobile to repeatedly call Talk Talk. They told her the problem wasn’t with them but with the line that goes into her house.

Openreach are responsible for this but the company will not allow customers to complain to them directly. In fact as customers you can’t contact them at all.

It’s set down in law that customers can only deal with their providers, which means Angela had no choice but to keep ringing TalkTalk to find out about Openreach’s progress.

Angela explained: ‘I didn’t feel we were getting anywhere. Every time I saw a BT Openreach van in the area I almost wanted to go out and ask them: “are you coming to fix my phone?” because it was just so frustrating.’

After a month had passed an engineer came out and told Angela that some cabling had decayed and that the repair job would be a long one.

Powerless to do anything Angela had no choice but to sit and wait. But what she didn’t know was that she wasn’t the only one waiting on Openreach.

Around 14 families on her street were without a phone connection or broadband.

A wide array of service providers served the residents and all of them said exactly the same thing. They were powerless to do anything because Openreach was to blame.

Eventually the residents decided enough was enough.

Unable to contact the company themselves they put together a petition and took it to their local MP, Liam Fox. He took the case on directly petitioning Openreach on their behalf.

After two months without landlines or broadband the repair work was finally carried out and their service was returned.

But what about those people who haven’t got the time or political collateral to take Openreach on?

BT Retail customer Darren Glen has now been without a reliable phone or broadband connection for four months.

But even though BT and Openreach are part of the same company it isn’t any easier to get answers.

Darren told us: ‘I have to go through BT. I can’t go through Openreach because they are a separate contracted company to BT and I’m not allowed to talk to them.

‘I reckon we’ve probably called BT two to three hundred times. We’ve had six so-say engineer visits. Only three attended.

‘They came back to us and said that there was a break in the line out on the main road. And nobody but nobody has come out and replaced the cable.’

Openreach have told BT that they’re waiting for council permission to work in the road before repairs can take place.

But to Darren this feels like just another excuse.

‘I think it’s disgraceful because I’m still told by BT I have to pay for my broadband, I have to pay for my telephone line and I get nothing.'

And there are many other people across the country that are just as unhappy with the level of service they’ve received from Openreach. At one point last year it took the company 27 days on average to install a new line.

Ofcom, the telecoms regulator, has launched a review of Openreach's quality of service and is expected to impose tougher standards on the company.

The report is due to conclude next year and was prompted not by complaints made from customers but from other service providers.

The hope is that this tougher stance from Ofcom will ensure that more is done for customers like Darren and the street affected in Portishead - to hold Openreach to their promise of ‘Keeping the Nation Connected’.

But until then most of us remain totally dependent on Openreach doing their job.

Company Response

 

A SPOKESPERSON FOR OPENREACH SAYS:

Openreach would like to apologise to all of the people featured in the report. We recognise that it took far too long to resolve these faults and we appreciate that losing telephone and internet services is a considerable inconvenience.

Our engineers carry out more than 160,000 jobs every week with very few issues. The average time to fix even the most complex faults is just over 3 days but sometimes we find extreme cases that need more investigation, planning and civil engineering work. We also need local authority approval to dig up roads, so these cases can take a lot longer to resolve.

We are constantly working to improve how we manage these issues and we have also carried out a full investigation into the cases featured. We believe these actions will lead to improvements in the services we provide to all communication providers and their customers.

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